University of Southern California
University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Student Ambassador Blog | Serena

Serena

Latino College Expo

, by Serena

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What a great turn out at this year’s 5th Annual Latino College Expo™!

What is the Latino College Expo?
Mostly comprised of high school and middle school Latino students, the event had recruiters from higher education (like me) and positive post-secondary pursuits (like recruiters from Disney Animation). The event had resources on grants, loans, and the Dream Act; additionally, information on internships and career opportunities were given. 

What did I do at the event?
While raising awareness about USC’s OT program with Diego Lopez, an occupational therapy doctorate (OTD) student, we spoke to over 300 high school students and even middle school students, (yes 8th graders :0) about OT. I wish I would have known about OT when I was in 8th grade! It was such an incredible sight to see so many young students not knowing what OT was but then realizing that their unique interests could be found in OT. For example, there were students interested in design and mechanical engineering and they realized that they could become an OT focusing on helping individuals live a more meaningful life by designing more functional prosthetics. Other students with a desire to pursue a major in criminology came to learn about OT’s role in forensic mental health and OT’s ability to work in the criminal justice system.

Given the age of the crowd, the middle and high schoolers were mostly interested in USC’s accelerated Bachelor’s to Master’s in Occupational Therapy program. They were amazed and thrilled to learn that they could receive their Master’s in just 5 years and their doctorate in occupational therapy in just one subsequent year!

OTD student, Diego Lopez, and I educating high school and middle school students about USC occupational therapy programs at the 5th Annual Latino College Expo event in Pomona, California.

The highlight of the event!
One of the highlights of the event is when the host of the event came up to the USC Occupational Therapy booth and let me have the microphone! I was in utter disbelief. My face completely lit up! I was so surprised since I was the only booth she had given the ability to speak on the microphone in front of the ENTIRE crowd! You know I took full advantage of the opportunity! I politely yet firmly grabbed the microphone and proudly stated my OT elevator pitch with a huge smile on my face. I mean, the opportunity to spread awareness about the best profession in the world wink to over 600 people does not happen that often.

In the Future…
I am most definitely looking forward to attending the 6th Annual Latino College Expo next year. Maybe next time they will let me go on the main stage with the microphone!

20th Annual Black College Expo
Stay tuned for a post about the 20th Annual Black College Expo, which will take place at the LA Convention Center on February 2nd. If you are a current USC OT student or alumni of the program, please message me if you would like to attend the event and help raise awareness about USC’s OT program!

Serena

Infusing Yoga into Fieldwork

, by Serena

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Attention!!!
Free Yoga Classes! Yoga mats provided!
Where: USC (in front of Doheny Library )
When: Friday 11/16/2018 & 11/30/2018 from 12-1pm
Who: Hosted by the USC Kortschak Center for Learning and Creativity
Yoga Teachers: Me & Jennifer (second year USC OT student)
Who can join?: Undergraduates, graduates, staff, & faculty are all welcomed.

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I am completing my Level I Fieldwork and Jennifer is completing her Level II Fieldwork at the USC Kortschak Center for Learning and Creativity (KCLC) under the mentorship of a previous student ambassador, Dr. Rashelle Nagata. As mentioned in my previous post, the USC KCLC is an academic support center that addresses challenges related to academic performance such as time management techniques, procrastination, self-care strategies, and stress management skills.

Dr. Nagata is our wonderful Fieldwork Educator (FE). A FE, formerly known as a Clinical Instructor (CI), is typically an occupational therapist who mentors and supervises you during your FW experience. In the beginning of our FW, Jennifer and I worked together to build an occupational therapy informed yoga class that incorporated meditation, mindfulness, and gentle yoga stretches to provide a greater awareness of useful calming and alerting strategies that can be easily incorporated throughout the day.

The yoga sessions, which are trauma informed, first begin with a mindful breathing activity, then leads into a guided meditation, and ends with gentle yoga stretches and poses. Throughout the session, aromatherapy and bells or Tibetan sound bowls are incorporated during session to bring greater awareness to the power of senses impacting a calm and alerting state. For example, we pass around lavender in the beginning to elicit a more serene vibe. Towards the end of the session, peppermint oil is offered to those wishing to return to an environment that requires a more alert state of being. We end with the sound of bells or Tibetan bowls, which have healing benefits such as decreasing stress and anxiety. 

If any of this speaks to you, we would love to have you at the next class! There are only 2 more sessions so hopefully I will see you there!

Namaste.

The yoga group comprised of undergraduate, graduate, staff, and faculty members performing gentle yoga stretches in front of Doheny Library on a beautiful sunny Southern California day!

 

Serena

2018 OTAC Annual Conference

, by Serena

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This past weekend the Student Ambassador team and I set up USC’s booth for the Occupational Therapy Association of California (OTAC) Annual Conference in Pasadena. I wanted to share a few pictures of the booth that attracted so many occupational therapists and occupational therapy students interested in the many programs that we have to offer. In particular, there was much interest in the Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program, Doctor of Philosophy in Occupational Science (PhD) program, and Lifestyle Redesign. However, there was an overwhelming interest in our USC stickers and Halloween candy!

USC’s booth at the Occupational Therapy Association of California (OTAC) Conference.

USC’s booth at the Occupational Therapy Association of California (OTAC) Conference.

Brochures highlighting the various Occupational Therapy programs offered at USC.

Brochures highlighting the various Occupational Therapy programs offered at USC.

Poster board of the many USC Trojans receiving OTAC awards and presenting at the OTAC conference with the beautifully displayed USC Chan Division pens.

Poster board of the many USC Trojans receiving OTAC awards and presenting at the OTAC conference with the beautifully displayed USC Chan Division pens.

USC Sensory Integration Online Continuing Education Certificate Program poster board.

USC Sensory Integration Online Continuing Education Certificate Program poster board.

Bianca, Melissa, Evan, and I at the USC booth after setting it up.

Bianca, Melissa, Evan, and me at the USC booth after setting it up.

Serena

Student Run Clinic’s 8th Annual Interdisciplinary Health Symposium

, by Serena

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At USC Student Run Clinic’s (SRC) 8th Annual Interdisciplinary Health Symposium, students from Medicine, Physician Assistant (PA), Pharmacy, and Occupational Therapy (of course!) programs explored healthcare topics related to homelessness in Los Angeles.

There were many honorable guest speakers doing fantastic work in their respective fields. One was a Physician Assistant and USC alumni, Brett Feldman. However, his documentary Close to Home: Street Medicine was nominated for an Emmy so he was unable to make it.

Another honorable speaker discussed her experiences receiving healthcare as a woman living on Skid Row. She shared her wisdom and advised us to
1) meet the patient where they are at or else we will experience burnout.
2) put the person first and not the chart, start off by asking, “How are you today?”
3) make sure our services come from the heart.

She was asked,“What is the most difficult thing about being homeless?” She replied back that the cold, wind, and finding a restroom were the most challenging aspects about being homeless. Her next comment struck me, which was that “No one teaches you how to be homeless.”

As an OT student I was intrigued by this statement. OTs acknowledge how lifestyle changes when one becomes homeless. We focus on developing ways to address challenges that come with new daily activities such as changes in sleep and toileting routines. It was a huge eye opener that the area that she listed to be her number one challenge was a specific area that OTs address.

Dr. Stephanie Moon, who is an occupational therapist at the Student Run Clinic advocated so passionately and eloquently about the many ways that OTs can help promote health in the homeless population. She proudly stated how OTs are the “Masters of Function”, how our secret sauce is activity analysis (looking at how difficult a task may be for a person), and the importance of addressing occupational deprivation (the loss of ability to participate in activities that are meaningful). Dr. Stephanie Moon stayed true to the creativity that OTs bring to the healthcare system by sharing a story on how she compiled recycled cardboard to create an elevated surface that would allow a patient who was homeless to experience better sleep quality.

Attending the 8th Annual Interdisciplinary Health Symposium was a wonderful experience. I loved gaining different perspectives and learning about more ways to better advocate for the field of OT.

Occupational therapy students representing the profession at the Student Run Clinic's 8th Annual Interdisciplinary Health Symposium

Occupational therapy students representing the profession at the Student Run Clinic’s 8th Annual Interdisciplinary Health Symposium

Serena

USC, CSUDH, and Loma Linda University at the 16th Annual Tea with a Scholar

, by Serena

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At the 16th Annual Afternoon Tea with a Scholar, I received tips from self-care to ways to receive financial aid as a student and practicing OT. The event was very informative and a wonderful way to bring occupational therapists together. Previous student ambassadors have wrote about their experiences with past Tea with a Scholar events, which have featured Dr. Florence Clark and Dr. Ann McDonald.

So you may ask, “What is Afternoon Tea with a Scholar?”. It is an annual event put on by occupational therapists. The intention is to bring the profession together to discuss current research in the field of Occupational Science. To set the scene a bit, there were students, faculty, and staff members from USC, Cal State Dominguez Hills (CSUDH), and Loma Linda University (LLU). Additionally, board members from occupational therapy organizations like the California Foundation of Occupational Therapy (CFOT) and the Occupational Therapy Association of California (OTAC) were present. So as you can probably tell it was a great way to get more connected with the larger OT community.

My colleagues and me at the 16th Annual Afternoon Tea with a Scholar proudly holding the Trojan sign in front of USC’s Center for Occupation and Lifestyle Redesign.

The event was held at USC’s historical Center for Occupation and Lifestyle Redesign. The topic of the afternoon was Community Health and Wellness. Dr. Julie Kugel was the honorable guest lecturer and is the director of the Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program at LLU. She presented on the current research she was engaged in and shared some of the impactful experiences that have shaped the scholar she is today. She addressed the concept of doubt and kindly stated that “Doubt does not make us any less, it makes us human,”. The ability to select so many different paths in the field of occupational therapy at times creates doubt, at least for me (lol). However, with this new understanding, I find doubt to now be humanizing and a common life experience. Another concept that Dr. Julie Kugel spoke about was what it means to be a true scholar. A true scholar is a person who is able to engage in conversation and advocate for our profession. I find this skill to be crucial in our ability to expand in areas where OTs are not currently practicing but are so desperately needed in helping to promote overall health. Additionally, the benefits of volunteering at conferences was also touched upon since this allows you to understand and learn about what goes on behind the scenes. Plus, you can possibly receive a conference ticket discount by volunteering a couple of hours of your time. While volunteering, you never know who you may meet and what those connections may lead to in the vast world of occupational therapy.

Dr. Julie Kugel after her lecture on Community Health and Wellness.

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